60th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956
On Thursday evening, October 20th, we went to Cleveland City Hall where the 60th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956 was being celebrated in the Rotunda.
As we know, from October 23rd to November 4th, 1956 the citizens of Hungary rose up in the streets of Budapest against the brutal Soviet Regime that had been occupying their country since 1945. Eventually, they were put down but their spirit will never be forgotten.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Mr. Laszlo Bojtos, the Honorary Consul General of Hungary who spoke from his wheelchair while his wife, Ms. Georgianna Bojtos, held the microphone as he turned the pages of his notes. Both immigrated to the United States from Hungary after the uprising.
Part of Mr. Bojtos' speech read, "1956 was the shining flame that first shot-up into the dismal gray sky of the Soviet world. There were some glimmers before October 23rd, 1956 but these were merely sparks and embers of discontent. 1956 was a full scaled rebellion against the oppression and injustice that had been imposed on the region by the Red Army's occupation....Why were the Hungarians of 1956 the first ones to rally against this absurd and cruel nightmare imposed by Stalin's Soviet Russia? Because they possessed a legacy that the fight for freedom was visceral, it was a national gut reaction. The revolution expressed the common will of a whole nation, not just a social segment of the dispossessed or disadvantaged people. The entire nation, as one, rose up against the system which left no room for individual human will or dignity, but placed every individual at the mercy of the state."
Mayor Jackson was also there to present a proclamation which paid tribute to the 200,000 people that were forced to flee Hungary. Some 35,000 went on to settle in the United States and 6,000 to 8,000 settled in the Cleveland area. The proclamation read, "the 1956 'Freedom Fighters' have made major contributions to the success of our city and enhanced Cleveland's rich history. Hungarian culture and tradition can be found in Cleveland's educational, cultural and medical institutions, libraries, museums, businesses and homes..."
At least 25 of those who fled Hungary in 1956 and settled in Cleveland were there with us in the Rotunda that evening. We talked to Mr. Odon Szentkiralyi and Mr. Frank Ulics about their experiences starting life all over again in the United States while Mr. John Megyimori and Ms. Anne Patay described the areas on the east side and west side of Cleveland that the Hungarian refugees/immigrants settled and created communities.
Unfortunately we could not hear large parts of the program from where we were sitting so we would like to express a special thank you to Ms. Jeanette Grasselli Brown, the Mistress of Ceremonies, and Mrs. Georgianna Bojtos for sharing their notes with us so that we could write this blog.
Letters from prominent officials were acknowledged in the course of the program and Ms. Brown read a passage from a Congressional Record which was a bipartisan effort between Congresspersons Marcy Kaptur (D) and Dennis Ross (R).
The Congressional Record read that the heroism of the freedom fighters "is legendary and it has made a difference in world history. They showed a united front and one that called upon their government to promote democratic ideals and unification."
It went on to say that "in the years since the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Hungary has made progress toward democratic reform and has since become a member of the European Union and NATO. Its award of Nobel Peace prizes in every single scientific and cultural field is a testimony to the talent and the abilities of the people of that country. Refugees and immigrants have contributed tremendously to America over the last sixty years."
The Congressional Record concludes by stating "Long Live Liberty and Long Live Hungary."
Lastly, we visited for a moment with Ms. Nosheen Khurram who is a women's rights activist from Pakistan who is visiting the United States in order to our legislative politics and the role of women in government. She loved being there with us in the Rotunda and loved the program. In terms of capturing the essence of the ideals of the United States and appreciation for its freedoms, we could not think of a better place for her to be.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC